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Rapidly rising food prices and the experience of food insecurity in urban Ethiopia: Impacts on health and well-being

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  • Hadley, Craig
  • Stevenson, Edward Geoffrey Jedediah
  • Tadesse, Yemesrach
  • Belachew, Tefera
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    Abstract

    The rise in food prices since 2007 is widely recognized as signaling a crisis of food insecurity among the world's poor. Scholars sought to chart the impacts of the crisis on food insecurity by conducting simulation studies, assessing anthropometric outcomes, and evaluating shifts in experience-based measures of food security. Few studies, however, have investigated the broader impacts on those most vulnerable and how rapid rises in food prices play out in the everyday lives of those most impacted. We used qualitative methods to investigate the impact of the rise in food prices on the urban poor in Ethiopia. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted in August 2011, in the provincial town of Jimma. Themes identified in these interviews included coping strategies, consumption priorities, and impacts on institutional networks of sharing. Our results suggest that several important cultural practices, including funerals and coffee ceremonies, were undermined by the rise in prices, and that respondents linked food prices to increasing food insecurity, which they in turn linked to high levels of stress, poor mental health, and reduced physical health. Our results are consistent with several other studies that suggest that food insecurity has a range of non-nutritional consequences, and that these are due in part to the highly social nature of food. Recognizing the effects of food insecurity on dimensions of everyday life such as interaction with neighbors, and feelings of shame, draws attention to the potential for food price increases to have erosive effects on communal social capital, and to increase the vulnerability of affected peoples to future shocks.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 12 ()
    Pages: 2412-2419

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2412-2419

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    Related research

    Keywords: Ethiopia; Food prices; Food crisis; Food security; Food-sharing; Coffee;

    References

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    1. Loening, Josef L. & Durevall, Dick & Ayalew Birru, Yohannes, 2009. "Inflation Dynamics and Food Prices in an Agricultural Economy: The Case of Ethiopia," Working Papers in Economics 347, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Stefan Dercon & Tessa Bold, 2004. "Group-based Funeral Insurance in Ethiopia and Tanzania," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-27, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Tsai, Alexander C. & Bangsberg, David R. & Frongillo, Edward A. & Hunt, Peter W. & Muzoora, Conrad & Martin, Jeffrey N. & Weiser, Sheri D., 2012. "Food insecurity, depression and the modifying role of social support among people living with HIV/AIDS in rural Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(12), pages 2012-2019.
    4. Headey, Derek & Fan, Shenggen, 2008. "Anatomy of a crisis: The causes and consequences of surging food prices," IFPRI discussion papers 831, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Ulimwengu, John M. & Workneh, Sindu & Paulos, Zelekawork, 2009. "Impact of soaring food price in Ethiopia: Does location matter?," IFPRI discussion papers 846, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Wodon, Quentin & Tsimpo, Clarence & Backiny-Yetna, Prospere & Joseph, George & Adoho, Franck & Coulombe, Harold, 2008. "Potential impact of higher food prices on poverty : summary estimates for a dozen west and central African countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4745, The World Bank.
    7. Stevenson, Edward G.J. & Greene, Leslie E. & Maes, Kenneth C. & Ambelu, Argaw & Tesfaye, Yihenew Alemu & Rheingans, Richard & Hadley, Craig, 2012. "Water insecurity in 3 dimensions: An anthropological perspective on water and women's psychosocial distress in Ethiopia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 392-400.
    8. Maros Ivanic & Will Martin, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries-super-1," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 405-416, November.
    9. Hadley, Craig & Linzer, Drew A. & Belachew, Tefera & Mariam, Abebe Gebre & Tessema, Fasil & Lindstrom, David, 2011. "Household capacities, vulnerabilities and food insecurity: Shifts in food insecurity in urban and rural Ethiopia during the 2008 food crisis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1534-1542.
    10. Hamelin, Anne-Marie & Beaudry, Micheline & Habicht, Jean-Pierre, 2002. "Characterization of household food insecurity in Qu├ębec: food and feelings," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 119-132, January.
    11. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4594, The World Bank.
    12. Corbett, Jane, 1988. "Famine and household coping strategies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 1099-1112, September.
    13. Rosamond L. Naylor & Walter P. Falcon, 2010. "Food Security in an Era of Economic Volatility," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(4), pages 693-723, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Maes, Kenneth & Kalofonos, Ippolytos, 2013. "Becoming and remaining community health workers: Perspectives from Ethiopia and Mozambique," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 52-59.

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